37 Bodyweight workouts to train your back

Lacking access to a gym?

No worries!

You can still sculpt a powerful back right from your living room.

Bodyweight exercises, though seemingly straightforward, pack a punch in strengthening your back.

Push through these workouts and you’ll not only build a more robust back but also fortify your core, which is crucial for spinal health and injury prevention.

Some routines might call for a bar or suspension straps, but your main challenger will be your body weight – an efficient and effective tool for shaping and strengthening your body.


The back muscles

Consider your back muscles as the pillars of your body, constantly at work to keep you standing tall and strong.

They do more than just assist in bending or twisting; they’re essential for basic actions like sitting or standing.

Plus, they’re critical for spinal support and even play a key role in breathing.

These powerhouses cover your entire back, with layers that range from deep-set muscles to those just beneath the surface.


Superficial muscles

Your superficial back muscles are the dynamos behind your arm movements, shoulder shrugs, and upright spine.

Let’s spotlight a few:

The latissimus dorsi, or ‘lats,’ stretch across your back from neck to buttocks.

These V-shaped muscles are your back’s anchors, connecting your arms to your spine while bolstering your shoulders.

Next, the levator scapulae, a slender muscle running from your upper back to your neck, plays a crucial role in lifting your shoulder blade.

Then there are the rhomboids, two muscles that draw your scapula closer to your spine.

And let’s not forget the trapezius, or ‘traps.’

This broad, triangular muscle extends from your neck and upper back to your shoulders, aiding in movement, arm elevation, and posture maintenance.


Intermediate muscles

Diving a bit deeper, we encounter the intermediate muscles, nestled just beneath the superficial ones.

These muscles, connecting the spine to the ribs, are pivotal for your breathing process, aiding in the expansion and contraction of the chest with each breath.

Among them are the serratus posterior superior, a slender, rectangular muscle in your upper back, and the serratus posterior inferior, uniquely quadrilateral and positioned at the junction of your thoracic and lumbar regions.

These muscles are key players in the seamless operation of your mid-back.


Intrinsic muscles

At the heart of your spine’s flexibility and strength are the intrinsic muscles.

These hidden gems allow your spine to bend, twist, flex, and extend.

Nestled below the spinal erector, the deep intrinsic muscles, known as transversospinales, consist of small yet mighty muscles connected to the spine’s transverse and spinous processes.

The semispinal, the most accessible of these deep muscles, varies in its upper attachments across the thoracic, cervical, and capital regions.

Below it lies the multifidus, most prominent in the lower back, providing crucial support.

And then there are the rotators, particularly significant in the thoracic area, adding to the dynamic range of your back’s movements.


37 best bodyweight exercises to train your back

So, if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably not a big fan of the gym, right?

Or maybe you just love the simplicity of bodyweight exercises?

Either way, you’re in luck!

Here’s a comprehensive list of the top 37 bodyweight exercises specifically designed to build a strong and functional back.

These exercises range from straightforward to challenging, offering a versatile approach to strengthening your back.

Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, there’s something here to suit your pace and comfort level.


1. Low Plank


Give the Low Plank a try – it’s a real deal for your core, perfect for sculpting those abs.

It’s a fantastic pick for any fitness routine because it needs no equipment and takes just a few minutes.

To do a Low Plank, rest your forearms on the ground, parallel to each other, and extend your legs back.

Your body should form a straight line from head to heels, with your head slightly forward.

Engage your abs, glutes, and leg muscles.

Hold this position for a few seconds to minutes, depending on your fitness level.

Not only does the plank strengthen the core, but it also works your shoulders, arms, and glutes.


2. High Plank


Ready to level up?

Try the High Plank.

It’s a notch above the Low Plank, demanding more from your core to keep those hips up.

For the High Plank, start prone on the ground, elbows over your forearms, palms down.

Push into the floor, lifting your torso and legs, mimicking the start of a push-up.

Ensure your hands and shoulders are aligned, your legs straight, and your core muscles fired up.

Hold this position as long as you can.

It’s a real test of core strength and stability.


3. Reverse Chinese Planks


Alright, let’s switch things up with the Reverse Chinese Plank.

While regular planks are all about the front, this bad boy targets your entire back.

Imagine using just your upper back and heels as your support pillars.

Your glutes, lower back, and hamstrings are going to feel the burn in this advanced hold.

So, snag a couple of benches, and place one under your shoulders and the other under your heels while you’re lying down.

Push down with your elbows and heels, straighten those hips and knees, and squeeze everything from your hamstrings to your abs.

Keep those elbows pinned and shoulder blades tight.

It’s a battle to keep your hips and back from dropping, but you’ve got this!


4. Superman


Next up, the Superman – a classic for a reason.

This one’s great for daily practice, hitting your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and abs.

Remember, it’s not a solo act; pair it with other exercises for the best results.

Lie down face-first, stretch out those arms and legs, and then lift them like you’re about to fly off. Your lower back is doing the heavy lifting here.

Hold it for a couple of seconds, then back down and repeat.

It’s a simple way to keep lower back pain at bay.


5. Pull-Up Superman


Feeling the groove?

Let’s amp it up with the Pull-Up Superman.

Think of it as Superman’s tougher sibling.

Once you’re up in that Superman lift, add a pull-up motion – yep, open those arms, line them up with your shoulders, and bend the elbows.

It’s a bit trickier, but oh-so-effective for your shoulders and entire back.

Start face down, arms and legs stretched out.

Lift your chest and arms, then pull those elbows toward your chest as if you’re doing a pull-up.

Extend your arms back out, and you’re all set.



 Superman Variations

And for those who like a twist, there are a few Superman variations to play with.

If you’re new to this or just building up strength, focus on moving either the upper or lower body.

Here’s the scoop:

  • W-Superman: Down on the floor, legs back, palms just below your shoulders. Slide those hands a bit forward, lift your chest and arms, making a ‘W’ with your body. Hold it, feel it, and then ease back down.
  • Y-Superman: Same drill, prone position, but this time stretch your arms diagonally in front, forming a ‘Y’ with your body. Lift, engaging those shoulders and lower back, hold that superhero pose, and then gracefully return to start.
  • T-Superman: Here’s a fun one. Lie down, and extend your arms out to the sides to form a ‘T’. Now, lift, working those shoulders and lower back. Maintain this position firmly, then gently lower yourself back down.

Remember, these variations are all about giving your lower back and shoulders some extra love. So, pick your favorite or rotate through them – either way, your back’s going to thank you.


6. Aquaman

Dive into the Aquaman for a powerhouse move that strengthens your lower back and keeps pain at bay.

This exercise hits the sweet spots: lower back, glutes, shoulders, and hamstrings.

Plus, it keeps your head in line with your spine – no awkward angles here.

Here’s how it rolls: Lie flat on a mat, arms and legs extended.

Lift one arm and the opposite leg, balancing like a champ.

Hold it, feel it, then switch to the other arm and leg.

Keep alternating for several reps.

It’s like swimming on land but with superhero vibes.


7. Door Row


Who needs a bar for pull-ups when you’ve got a door?

The Door Row is your at-home ticket to working those lats and teres major muscles.

Check out these three cool ways to do it:

  • Method 1: Grab onto a door jamb at chest height. Lean back, arms extended, keeping your body straight as an arrow (knees slightly bent). Now pull yourself towards the door – it’s like hugging your house.
  • Method 2: Open a door, hold onto the handles, and plant your feet near it with a slight knee bend. Lean back until your arms are fully outstretched, then pull yourself in. It’s like the door’s playing hard to get.
  • Method 3: Loop a towel or band over the door handle. Stand with almost straight legs, lean back, arms out, and pull yourself in. It’s the ol’ tug-of-war with your door!


8. Bridge Push Up


Ready to up the ante?

The Bridge Push-Up is all about boosting your lower back and glute strength.

Start by lying on your back.

Bend your arms, and place them near your ears with forearms vertical, fingers pointing towards your hips.

Bend those knees, and feet close to your rear.

Now, push up with your arms, hold for a moment – like you’re forming a human bridge – then ease back down.

It’s a bit gymnastic, a lot fantastic.


9. The One-Arm Bridge Push-Ups


Up for a challenge?

The One-Arm Bridge Push-Up is like the boss level in video games.

It’s an advanced move that calls for some serious muscle work, especially from your arms and shoulders.

Plus, it’s a great stabilizer workout since you’re balancing without one arm.

Here’s the drill:

Start like you’re doing a normal Bridge Push-Up, but this time, lift yourself with just one arm.

Hold it – feel like a superhero yet?

Then, lower back down smoothly.

But hey, make sure you’ve got the basic Bridge Push-Up down pat before you try to conquer this one.


10. Scapula Push-Ups


Want to give your neck, shoulders, and back a little extra love?

Scapula Push-Ups are your go-to.

It’s like a mini spa session for your muscles, boosting mobility and reducing pain risk.

The real stars here are your rhomboids.

Instead of blasting your chest, this version zeroes in on your back muscles.

Kick-off in a High Plank.

Then, bring your shoulder blades together – you’ll dip a bit, that’s normal.

Once they’re nearly touching, ease back to start.

It’s a subtle move, but boy, does it do wonders!


11. Back Widow Push-Up


The Back Widow Push-Up has you lying face up, targeting those upper back muscles like a pro.

Think rhomboids, upper traps, and posterior deltoids.

Get down on your back, elbows out.

Push through those elbows, lift that torso, and hold for 2 seconds – like you’re bench pressing the air.

Keep your knees bent, and feet flat.

It’s a weird angle, sure, but it’s a back-strengthening marvel.


12. T Push-Up (Push-Up with rotation)

Talk about a full-body workout!

The T Push-Up is like your standard push-up but with a twist – literally.

It’s a champ at working your shoulder girdle, obliques, back, torso, and even the chest.

Start in your regular push-up stance.

Go down until you’re almost kissing the floor, then as you push up, twist and reach one arm sky-high, making a ‘T’.

Hold it for a second, then back to center and switch sides next rep.

It’s like giving the gym a high-five.


13. Close-Grip Pull Up


Get ready to feel the burn in the best way with Close-Grip Pull-Ups.

These bad boys are all about honing in on your inner lats and giving your back, arms, and core a solid workout.

Plus, that tight grip means your lower lats are getting some serious attention.

Here’s how it goes down:

Grab the bar with your hands about 6-8 inches apart.

Keep your glutes tight and your abs pulled in.

Pull up, bending those elbows, until the bar is cozy with your upper chest.

Aim to get as high as you can for that muscle-loving contraction, then glide back down to start.


14. Wide-Grip Pull-Up


Ready to spread your wings?

The Wide-Grip Pull-Up is your ticket to a powerful back.

This version shifts the focus to your lats big time.

Grip that bar with your hands wider than your shoulders – like you’re trying to stretch the bar out.

Pull yourself up, take a brief pause to savor the moment, then lower back down.

It’s simple, straightforward, and oh-so-effective.


15. Tornado Pull-Up


The Tornado Pull-Up isn’t just a pull-up; it’s a whole weather system for your muscles!

It’s all about the biceps, brachialis, lats, and those spinning obliques.

Forget about chin-over-bar; this is about forehead-to-bar and elbow-to-knee action.

You’ll be twisting, turning, and pulling in ways that make your whole body work in unison.

Picture yourself hanging there, legs straight, spinning them around like you’re stirring a giant pot.

It’s a full-body whirlwind that’ll leave your muscles buzzing.


16. One-Arm Pull-Up


Talk about leveling up!

The One-Arm Pull-Up is the equivalent of lifting the heavyweight title in the pull-up world.

If you’re already smashing those regular pull-ups, here’s your next challenge.

You’ll be pulling yourself up with one arm, relying on sheer strength and solid joint mobility.

Before you even think about it, make sure you can nail at least 15 two-arm pull-ups in a set.

This move is no joke – it’s all about that one-arm power pull.


17. Sliding Floor Pulldown


Who said you need fancy equipment to work those lats?

The Sliding Floor Pulldown is your at-home answer.

Imagine sliding your way to a stronger back with just a pair of sliders or even some smooth-soled shoes.

You’re lying there, face-down, pulling yourself forward, and feeling every bit of those lats and front shoulders working.

It’s like doing a pull-down on the floor, proving you don’t need a gym to get those gains.


18. Negative Pull Up


Now let’s talk about Negative Pull-Ups.

These other bad boys are all about the descent – slow, controlled, and utterly strength-building.

It’s not just your back getting the love here; your biceps, hands, wrists, and forearms are all joining the party.

This exercise is a fantastic way to build up to a full pull-up, focusing on that all-important lowering phase.

Picture yourself up there, slowly coming down, resisting gravity – that’s where the magic happens.


19. Forward Bend


The Forward Bend is like giving your body a gentle, stretchy hug.

It’s all about bringing your upper body down to meet your lower body, whether you’re standing or sitting.

This move is a favorite for loosening up the thoracolumbar fascia, erector spine muscles, deep external rotators, glutes, and hamstrings.

Remember, it’s not a competition to see how low you can go.

It’s more like a chill journey to a relaxation town.

Try it for 15-30 seconds and feel the release.


20. The Back Extension Machine or Roman Chair


If you’re up for some equipment action, the Roman Chair or Hyperextension Bench is your new best friend for back extensions.

These moves are all about your lower back, giving those spinal erector muscles the attention they deserve.

Here’s the game plan:

lie face down on the bench, ankles locked in place.

Cross your arms in front or behind your head, keep your back flat, and slowly rise like the sun in the morning.

It’s a smooth, controlled way to give your lower back some serious strength.


21. Suspension Row


Suspension rows are the multitaskers of back exercises, hitting all the right spots in just one move.

Grab those suspension trainer handles, keep your arms straight, and lean back.

Now, pull yourself up like you’re rowing a boat through calm waters.

It’s a total back, core, and shoulder workout.

Just remember, it’s all about control – no jerky motions.


22. Inverted Row


The Inverted Row, or as some call it, the ‘Horizontal Pull,’ is a classic.

You can do it freehand or add weights for an extra challenge.

It’s a top-tier workout for your upper back.

Position yourself under a bar, legs straight, heels down.

Keep your body as straight as a plank and pull your chest up to the bar.

Then lower back down like you’re gliding on air.

Mix it up with different grips to keep it fresh and challenging.


23. Back Lever


In the world of bodyweight workouts, the Back Lever is the ultimate test of control, like walking a tightrope with your muscles.

It’s a showstopper that works your shoulders, deltoids, biceps, traps, lower back, core, and glutes.

Imagine hanging upside down like a bat and then smoothly extending your body out into a straight line.

It’s a gravity-defying move that looks cool and feels like a total-body triumph.


24. Single-Leg Deadlift


The Single-Leg Deadlift is a balancing act that’s all about strength and grace.

Stand on one leg, tip forward like you’re reaching for something on the floor, and let your other leg fly out behind you.

It’s a core, back, and leg bonanza, all while trying not to wobble like a tipsy flamingo.

Get low, get parallel to the floor, then rise back up and switch legs.


25. Reverse Snow Angels


Remember making snow angels as a kid?

The Reverse Snow Angel is like that, but face down and without the snow.

You’re working your trapezius, lower back, deltoids, and abs.

Lie down, arms overhead, and lift everything.

Now, sweep your arms to your sides like you’re trying to fly.

Keep your arms raised, bring those shoulder blades together, and imagine yourself soaring like a bird in flight.


26. Hip Hinge (aka Good Mornings)


The Hip Hinge, or as some call it, ‘Good Mornings,’ is deceptively simple but incredibly effective.

It’s all about bending forward with a straight back like you’re politely bowing to someone.

This move hits your whole posterior chain – think spinal erectors and lower back.

Plus, your abs get in on the action too.

It’s a respectful nod to full-body fitness.



27. One-Arm Bodyweight Row


Up for a challenge?

The One-Arm Bodyweight Row is like the regular row’s tougher cousin.

You’re under the barbell, grabbing it with one hand, and pulling up without letting gravity spin you around.

It’s a balancing act that fires up your arms, back, and core.

Imagine trying to touch the bar with your nipple – that’s your target.

Pull up, pause at the top, then lower down with control.

Switch arms and repeat the fun.


28. Typewriter Pull-Up


Think of a typewriter reimagined for fitness.

The Typewriter Pull-Up takes the basic pull-up and adds a dynamic, lateral dimension.

This beast of exercise targets your back, biceps, shoulders, and core.

You’ll pull up on one side, slide across, then switch.

It’s like you’re typing out a message of strength with each move.

Just remember to keep those core muscles tight and control your leg swing.


29. Gironda Sternum Chin-Up


The Gironda Sternum Chin-Up turns the classic chin-up into a full-back workout.

It’s all about pulling your sternum up to the bar, not just your chin.

Imagine pointing your chest to the bar and squeezing those shoulder blades as you go.

It’s a lat-destroying, upper-back sculpting move.

Lower yourself slowly to complete the rep.

It’s a chin-up that’s not just about going up but also about going out.


30. Rope Climbing


Rope Climbing isn’t just for gym class; it’s a serious upper-body blaster.

Before you even think about scaling that rope, get your arms, back, and core ready to rumble.

The trick is in the wrap and climb technique – hoist those knees up, wrap the rope, and push with your legs as you pull with your arms.

It’s a perfect blend of strength and technique.

Just imagine you’re climbing to victory.


31. Ice Cream Maker


Ready for a sweet treat of exercise?

The Ice Cream Maker is a gymnastic move that combines Pull-Ups with Hollow Body Rocks.

It’s a full-body fiesta, hitting everything from your back to your triceps.

You’ll pull up, extend your body parallel to the floor, and then rock back to the start.

It’s like making ice cream but with muscles instead of sugar.  😃


32. Cobra exercise


The Cobra Pose is like giving your back a good morning stretch but at any time of the day.

No equipment is needed – just you, your mat, and some floor space.

It’s perfect for beginners looking to up their flexibility game.

This movement is a champ at strengthening those spinal support muscles and saying goodbye to back pain.

Just lie down, push up with your arms, lift that chest, and bask in the stretch for about 20 seconds.


33. Bird Dog


The Bird Dog might sound like a quirky animal, but it’s a super effective exercise.

It’s like your body’s trying to be both a bird and a dog at the same time.

This move targets your spinal erectors and then calls in a whole crew of muscles – from your abs to your glutes, traps, deltoids, and even those tiny muscles you didn’t know you had.

Get on all fours, stretch one arm forward and the opposite leg back, hold it like you’re about to take off, then switch sides.

It’s a balancing act that brings strength and stability.


34. Ab Wheel Rollout


Before you even think about tackling this exercise,  make sure those abs are prepped and ready.

This move calls in the big guns of your core muscles: the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis.

And don’t forget about those obliques, shoulders, and lats joining the party.

Grab that ab wheel, kneel, and roll forward like you’re unrolling your red carpet.

Keep that core tight and back straight. It’s a smooth ride to a steel core.


35. Hand Walk


Hand Walks are like taking your body on a little adventure.

It’s a full-body fiesta, targeting everything from your core and shoulders to your glutes and lower back.

Start standing, then bend and walk your hands out as far as they’ll go – think of it as a horizontal stroll.

Then stroll back to standing.

It’s a stretch, a strength, and a bit of a journey all in one.


36. Sliding Leg Curl


Say hello to the Sliding Leg Curl, the cousin of the Nordic Hamstring Curl.

This one’s all about giving some love to your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

Lie down, knees bent, feet on sliders or towels, and slide into a world of strength.

Pull your feet in, lift those hips, and feel the burn.


37. Plank with a row


A plank with a Row is where stability meets strength.

This exercise doesn’t just challenge your middle and upper back; it’s a full-on core and shoulder stabilizer.

Grab a pair of dumbbells (nothing too crazy) and get into a plank.

Now, row one dumbbell up, squeezing those shoulder blades and keeping that elbow snug.

Switch arms and keep that plank solid.

It’s like being a juggler but with muscles and weights.


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Final Thoughts

Remember, you don’t always need fancy equipment or heavy weights to build those mighty lats.

Bodyweight exercises are your secret weapon for a strong, sculpted back.

Sure, they’re great for aesthetics, but there’s more to it.

These exercises are the foundation of your workout routine – they strengthen your spine, enhance your upper body strength, and help maintain your balance.

Plus, a robust back is your ticket to better posture and a goodbye note to back pain.

So, embrace these exercises, and watch as they transform not just your back, but your entire body’s strength and stability.


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